AS an art student in the late 1960s, I attended a symposium. In the interval I sat near two (mid-twenties age) lecturers. They were both ‘right on’ – into then-fashionable ‘working-class culture’, which they imagined was characterised by uncouth dress, obscene language, and generally rude behaviour.
By coincidence I happened to live in the same town as one of them. I knew he had been brought up in a gorgeous Georgian house, filled with elegant furniture and 18th century portraiture of his gentry ancestors. His parents were both Oxbridge educated.
My own ancestry is irreproachably working-class – colliers, mill workers and so on. My maternal grandmother left school at 12, but that did not stop her learning impeccable French, playing the piano, devouring every book she could get her hands on, and making important wartime contributions to the wellbeing of her local community.
Her home was beautiful – rag rugs on the floors, patchwork quilts on the beds – every useful scrap saved. I felt anger at the ignorant misconceptions these spoilt ‘woke’ lecturers perpetrated.
Of course, times have moved on, the struggles of the working class are conveniently forgotten – no longer of any interest. The privileged now have other more important matters to highlight.